Contributed by: Courtney Goforth
If ya can’t take the heat, get out the Jungle. This sizable collection of Englishmen (and woman) have unearthed groovy vibes that effortlessly help to shovel out any previously uncultivated dance moves. This year alone they paid their dues at SXSW, crossed off Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and are currently on a North American tour.
Their self-titled debut album was released via XL Recordings in July of 2014 to widespread critical acclaim. The album was recently shortlisted for the 2014 Mercury Prize, the annual music prize awarded for the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland.
As the band continues to tour in support of the album, the group, fronted by west Londoners Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, will forge on to write their second album on the road. We sat down with Jungle founding member Josh Lloyd-Watson before their recent show at The Mohawk to find out more.
Do512: Lovely to meet you. When did you guys get in?
We woke up in a Wal-Mart car park this morning, which was really fun. We drove here from Phoenix so it was a long drive. We spent the whole day yesterday driving and that’s about it. It was a bit weird waking up in a car park though.
Do512: Did you have a chance to do anything else after you left the Wal-Mart?
We did a radio session earlier for the college radio (KUTX). That was amazing, we had a lot of fun there. They have a really cool studio. We hung out on campus, kind of just walking around going, “Heyyyy.” Obviously we’ve been here before for SXSW, which was amazing. It’s obviously a much more vibrant time for the city, ya know, it was chaos.
Do512: How is it being back in Austin without being surrounded by the chaos of SXSW?
It’s nice. This venue (Mohawk) is fucking amazing, so we are really excited to play. We were just finishing the record (during SXSW) so it was fucking mayhem for us. We were doing two shows a day then going back to the hotel and writing and working. Not even producing, just writing the rest of the record and then about a week later we put it out.
Do512: I’ve read that you guys use to go by J and T?
We still go by J and T. I quite like it. I like the idea of separating who you are in normal life with who you are in the music business because there is a massive difference. You know, you have to play the game in the music business. It’s sad, but you have to do it. You kind of want to separate your personal life from your exposed, or public life. So I guess it is an attempt to do that.
Do512: Do you dance like any of the guys in your videos? Are they in the band?
Fuck, I wish they were in the band! They can’t play instruments, though. They’re really only good at rollerskating.
Do512: You and Tom have known each other forever. Have you been playing music together that long, too?
Yeah, roughly. I don’t know if it was good music, but we’ve always kind of been playing music. We’ve always been roller-skating, playing futbol, ya know, music is something you kind of do to become friends. It built a friendship and it is still a way for us to hang out;, fiddle with synths, and make tunes. I suppose that’s been the case for the last 14, 15, years.
Do512: Have you guys always played the same kind music as you do now?
I see a load of different things in our music. It’s really hard to pinpoint. There are definitely elements of funk, soul, hip-hop I suppose, and electronic music across the board, and I suppose indie, folk, Krautrock and psychedelia in the music. I’d say it’s a weird mash of those.
Do512: You put out your single “The Heat” at the end of last year and it’s doing well. Are you feeling any tangible success from it?
Define success. To us, it’s just being able to play music to people, whether it’s 10 people or 1,000 people. It’s a wrong kind of motive if you are trying to pin success on the outer world. If you are happy, and playing music with your friends, and as far as I’m concerned that is successful. It is amazing to be doing that. Going around the world and calling this a job is amazing.
Do512: Have you noticed any differences in the crowds between the U.S. and U.K.?
Jungle: Not really. I don’t think we’ve really had a bad crowd, which is amazing because everyone’s played in bands and played to nobody. That’s the classic story, and you have to do that. If you haven’t done that, and you’ve played to loads of people, then you haven’t been on the right sort of ladder. You’ve got to play to one person as a musician, because it makes you kind of appreciate it.
Do512: So why the name Jungle?
We were thinking of loads of names and our tour manager, Sam, was like, “Ya gotta pick a name,” and we were like, “Ah, fuck’s sake.” It’s annoying because you put so much pressure on it, but once you actually just pick one and go with it, it’s fine. Once you know jungle, once you know our Jungle, when you are familiar with the videos and the music, then it becomes irrelevant. It is a genre, and a place, but there wasn’t a link between the kind of jungle and what it means for us. It’s a labyrinth of massive things of life, and love, and a place you can kind of escape.
Do512: Other than finishing out this tour, what else are you working on?
Well, we are stoked to write the second record on the road, which is always fun. But who knows when that will be, right now we still have a lot left to experience, a lot left to find out about what this is. It’s sort of been a bit of a crazy ride and I suppose that will come out next time. Who knows? It might be a completely different sound. It might be a post-punk psychedelic record. We’ll see.